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Turkey has issued another warning about the Kurdish insurgency in its eastern provinces, threatening to invade northern Iraq to put an end to the provocations. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed American assurances of cooperation, coming close to a diplomatic ultimatum against Iraq:
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday reaffirmed Turkey's right to send troops into Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there and chided U.S. officials for questioning it.
"The Turkish Republic will do whatever is necessary to combat the terrorists when the time comes, but it will not announce its plans in advance," Erdogan told a news conference after a meeting of his ruling AK Party.
"We say we are ready to take concrete steps with the Iraqi government and we also say these steps must be taken now."
In sharp language underscoring Turkish anxiety about the chaos in Iraq, Erdogan said it was wrong for Washington -- "our supposed strategic ally" -- to tell Turkey, with its historic and cultural ties in the region, to stay out of Iraq.
"We have a 350 km border with Iraq. We have historic relations ... the United States is 10,000 km away from Iraq, and yet is it not intervening in Iraq's internal affairs?" he said.
Turkey considers this its most important foreign policy issue now, even more so than its bid to join the EU. They fear the rise of an independent Kurdistan in a potential break-up of Iraq and its effect on the Kurdish minority in eastern Turkey. Erdogan, who faces a tough re-election bid this year, wants to show that he can secure Turkey and end the attacks by the PKK.
That puts Washington in a tough position. Turkey is, after all, a NATO member -- and the doctrine of NATO is that an attack on one member is an attack on all members. The US is therefore pledged to defend Turkey in the case of war. If the attacks in Turkey originate from Iraq, then it's much the same problem as the Syrian support for Sunni insurgents in Iraq are for the US. Are we willing to defend Turkey against Iraq?
Erdogan has a history of inflammatory statements for domestic consumption, and it behooves him to appear independent of the US. That doesn't mean he is making up the problem or that the Turks will not indeed attack northern Iraq, undermining the one unqualified success in our efforts there. We need to get the Kurds to end their support for the PKK and help end the provocations before Erdogan is forced to answer them himself. (via Michael van der Galien at TMV)Sphere It View blog reactions
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The Turkey TangleEd Morrissey Turkey has issued another warning about the Kurdish insurgency in its eastern provinces, threatening to invade northern Iraq to put an end to the provocations. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed American assurance... [Read More]
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